Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest There was a fair amount of online interest this week in a story about a box turtle in Holmes County that was found with the date 1911 carved on the underside of its shell.The turtle was found by John A. Yoder in early September while he was helping a neighbor shock corn. Here is an excerpt from the Times Reporter story written by Jon Baker (I recommend checking out the whole thing):Next to the date 1911 were the initials “V.F.” Abe Yoder said that is likely Victor Fender, who lived on a farm off Holmes County Road 600. Fender died in 1985.Below that are carved the initials “H.T.” and the date 1983. Yoder said that is likely Henry E. Troyer, who owned Fender’s farm in 1983.The farm is now occupied by Troyer’s son-in-law Joseph D. Miller.The average life span of a box turtle is 50 years, but a significant portion of them live for more than 100 years.I read the entire story with great interest for several reasons. First, I had never heard of doing this before (though apparently it is not all that uncommon). Second, I found this to be a very unique way for a farmer to leave a mark of his life for others to remember his legacy on the land.Farmers leave the mark of their lives in many ways — the land, the mouths they feed, their families, and the other natural resources that are in their care. The stories on this website over the years have highlighted thousands of examples of farmers in Ohio leaving a positive mark that will benefit generations to come.Yet with so many positive examples, what will this generation’s agricultural legacy be? When they hear Ohio agriculture, far too many people think about toxic algae, videos of abused animals on the Internet or some monstrous, evil factory churning out unhealthy food for the masses.While these are inaccurate perceptions based on a few bad actors, over simplified headlines about very complex issues and misunderstandings based on extremist rhetoric, they are nonetheless quite common. Will notions like these be our agricultural legacy? I suppose that depends upon whom you ask, but it also depends upon what we do — and quite frankly carving on a turtle shell ain’t going to cut it today.Though it may not necessarily be in their nature, farmers are being forced to reach out and highlight the good that is being done on their farms to counteract so many other voices with strong anti-ag sentiments.As hog farmer Neil Rhonemus from Highland County says, “We need to get our story across to the general public so they know what we are doing before somebody makes it up for us.”On farms, meeting and exceeding regulations, going the extra mile to help a neighbor, and taking extra steps to improve food safety, the environment and animal welfare have long been standard practices, but they need to be highlighted to leave a lasting positive legacy. Agriculture not only has to really do these things, but then we have to let everyone know that we did them. The second part of this equation has long been neglected by agriculture until recent years when it has clearly become a necessity for survival.Leaving a positive modern legacy will be no easy task. These are complex, confusing and quickly changing times we live in. It is no wonder there is such an appeal with something as simple and enduring as a carved turtle shell, but our real legacy resides with the realities displayed on the land we improve (or degrade), the lives of others we serve (or hinder) and how those we influence view those realities to shape their perception of us after we are gone.In short: share your story if it’s positive and change it if it’s not. Then share it.